PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, EASTER WEEKEND, APRIL 18-20, 2014) — In honor of Good Friday, there will be no “regular” edition of THE PLANET. Instead, we will present a brief look ahead to next week.

May we take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a Happy Easter.

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— Be sure to check out THE PLANET next week. We shall have updates on the situation of William Monterosso at Berkshire Works. THE PLANET has found out more, despite the mayor’s frantic efforts to put a seal on this story. Do you remember when you forgot to refrigerate the fish heads, and they were left out for seven days? That’s what this one smells like.

— We will also be telling you, as THE PLANET predicted weeks ago, that Bianchi shall put Julie Berkowitz Sabourin forward as his chief lackey, a.k.a., “director of administrative services.” The city council votes on her nomination on Tuesday. Sabourin was Bianchi’s chief mandarin in The Scopes Monkey Trial, which evidence suggests was orchestrated by Bianchi to punish school committee member Terry Kinnas. There was no honest search for a position that became open when Mary McGinnis resigned for what sources claim were her misgivings about Bianchi’s attitude toward race, specifically blacks. As we told you, “The Fix Was and Still Is In.” Looks like BIanchi gave Berkowitz Sabourin this plum for her loyalty as a good bund member for her work on the Monkey Trial. Of course, we could be wring … wrang … wrung … er … wrong about that, too. On her resume, Sabourin says of herself: “Resourceful leader adept at implementing high-profile programs targeted for diverse constituencies.” Whatever the hell that means. THE PLANET takes a guess, being as how she will be working for Dan Bianchi, that “diverse constituencies” will not include “Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski,” The Little Guy, regular folks, or bedraggled taxpayers.

— Also on Tuesday, the mayor’s request to borrow nearly $3 million for a new bus fleet magically comes back a mere two weeks after the council defeated it! Expect some “funny business.” Gee, could city sol Kathy Degnan have “ruled” that Nick Caccamo can vote? Could that be why she refused to see THE PLANET when we dropped by Tuesday for a friendly visit? Or maybe one among the three who voted against the foolish borrowing plan “got their minds right” and will now say that voting to borrow more money for a needless purchase is for “The Children?”

— Oh yeah, and it looks like Bianchi will be getting a huge pay raise as part of the changes in the new charter. He’s making about $87,000 now. The new range will be a “minimum” of $92,213 to “exceeding” $119,887. Guess the mayor thinks he’s been the pig’s oink and needs more dough for all that part-time ribbon cutting and certificate awarding. Think of that the next time your boss in the Dreaded Private Sector tells you to “stop bitching” that your pay is frozen again for the fourth year in a row and to “Be grateful you got a job at all.” That’s not how it works on the Gravy Train.

As you can see, there will be a lot popping on THE PLANET. Stay with us. We’re the only game in town.


THE PLANET would also like to include the following remarks from Lisa Tully, explaining to her Ward 1 constituents why she did not support the mayor’s borrowing request for new buses. THE PLANET inadvertently left it out of the story a couple of days ago, in which we published remarks from Tully, Kevin Morandi, and others on the bus vote.

Some conspiracy theorists cited that as proof that THE PLANET was somehow “up to something” with the omission. Yes, it’s not easy being us, sometimes, when every move we make in support of or against a position or matter of public policy is scrutinized, judged, dissected, micro-analyzed, briefed, and debriefed. Ah, but that is OK, too, because it means we have an audience.

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From: Tully, Lisa
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:17 PM
Subject: Pittsfield School Bus Fleet

Dear Ward 1 Constituents,

As you may have read in the Berkshire Eagle, at Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, I voted against the City’s request to obtain a $2.7M bond to purchase an entire new school bus fleet.  Contrary to what the Eagle editorialized; I did not vote against the $2.7M bond it because I drive a 10 year old car.

I voted against the bond because the school department did not provide any research indicating that this is the most cost effective process to maintaining a school bus fleet.

Through my research, I found that the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, in their school bus replacement consideration document recommends a 12 to 15 year replacement life. (Download the document here )  Also the State of Indiana mandates a minimum 12 year life before replacement; and South Carolina adopted a 15 year, 250,000 mile cycle.

I took the individual bus figures from their bid and put together a very simple replacement plan based on mileage, (attached).  I know that I am not an expert, but a yearly replacement plan of a certain number of buses seems feasible to me over the next 5 years.  The school department could not provide any documentation as to why this approach is not cost effective.

I am very concerned that a new bond is not the best approach for the following reasons:
1) The school department did not budget for yearly bus replacements as was promised in 2006 when the City bought the existing fleet, for which we still owe $1.5M until 2020.
2) To the best of my knowledge, there is no mechanism to require the school department to budget for this new bond repayment, and it could fall on the City’s budget to repay.
3) I feel we should use the residual life of the current fleet for the next 5 years, replacing the buses in the worst condition first.

I would be happy to hear your thoughts and concerns so please feel free to respond to this email.

Thank You


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With all of that, Happy Easter, everybody.


“There is no moon above when love is far away, too, till it comes true that you love me as I love you.” — “How High the Moon,” Ella Fiztgerald, Les Paul & Mary Ford, and other artists.




  1. amandaWell
    April 18, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    To be quite frank, Councilor Tully makes sense and don’t think she will change her vote. So, with that being said, the only way, the only city in Beserkshires will keep have there own fleet is for Councilor Caccamo to be included, what a mess!

  2. Nota
    April 18, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Someone told me Lew Madden on the consider it show said Caccamo shouldn’t have been seated during the debate?

    • DowagerHat
      April 18, 2014 at 10:03 am #

      Quote from the GREEK GOD “Palookaville”.

      • levitan
        April 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

        Isn’t he the guy who demanded that City Council should issue an edict demanding that Ruberto sign up with Bloomberg’s pet project. (talk about palookas.)

  3. outfox
    April 18, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    A pay raise for doing what?? Oy vey.

  4. Rafael
    April 18, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    So the part time mayor gives himself a huge pay raise. Less work = more money in Pittsfield gov’t.
    A recall vote would be in order for this disaster of a mayor, but of course it would never get the support needed. Too many uninformed voters around here.

    • levitan
      April 18, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Isn’t it the task for those pushing a political initiative to ‘inform’ the voters?

    • Wilson
      April 20, 2014 at 4:52 am #

      The Pittsfield voters blindly approved the charter, this city gets what it deserves

      • danvalenti
        April 20, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

        Yup. No question.

  5. Shakes His Head
    April 18, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Pittsfield has a mayor?

  6. dusty
    April 18, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Can this job be filled by appointment without consideration of whether there might be a more qualified individual?

    Bianchi used to be at odds with former loser mayor Gerry Doyle. Now it looks like he may have become him.

    • DowagerHat
      April 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      Laissez-faire leadership without a barstool.

  7. Gene
    April 18, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    The city has turned into a lawless frontier town, like an old TV western. Run by thugs and goons. This stuff is unbelieveable. Keep the heat on em, DV.

  8. Johnny2Shoes
    April 18, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    I think the raise is justified. Look at all the ribbon cutting ceremonies he attends. Otherwise he may hire a ribbon cutting asst. which may cost more than the raise.

    • Scott
      April 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

      Good one two shoes. Happy Easter to all I hope everyone can at lest for one day enjoy family/friends and good food without worrying or stressing.

  9. Nota
    April 18, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    We will be eating eggs for Easter, thanx mayor!

  10. Ron Kitterman
    April 18, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    Pittsfield city government is getting like the Easter Egg hunts they use to have at Clap Park in the 50’s, the grown ups and big kids would muscle in on the youngsters and elbow them out of the way to collect all the eggs. Billy Monterosso is still collecting over 90 K for not working at Berkshire Works and the Mayor is looking to increase his salary for nearly not working. Looks like the progressives nailed it again, they won’t rest till everyone that wants a jobs has one, but will pay everyone who doesn’t want one.

    • ShirleyKnutz
      April 18, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

      Ron you got it wrong, liberals do not want people to have jibs because then the people see their hard earned money going to big government and not getting anything in return. The democrats want their voting block to be on the take!!

    • Johnny2Shoes
      April 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

      The city of Pittsfield is becoming a WORK FREE ZONE with the mayor taking the lead ! I thought we had only drug free zones?

  11. billy
    April 19, 2014 at 3:26 am #

    Pay raise? He should be ashamed of himself.he hasn’t earned what he is making now, Their are no good paying jobs I. The city and he feels nothing about making elderly and families working 3 jobs pay his grossly bloated salary.i am against it .He is overpaid now

  12. pothole
    April 19, 2014 at 5:00 am #

    “exceeding $119,887.00” now that wording is extremely unsettling. I hope the council, the entire coin cil unites against this outrageous and bold request to line the mayors pockets while so many others are struggling. This mayor needs to lead. His lack of leadership is glaringly obvious and the city is suffering because of it. He should absolutely be denied this request.

    • Wilson
      April 20, 2014 at 5:05 am #

      Once the school superintendent’s salary became huge it was inevitable that others’ would follow. It might seem at first that government employees would want to undercut each other to protect their share of a limited budget, but it actually ends up as a mutual admiration society where each declares that the other is “underpaid” since they all view the taxpayer as an unlimited source of funding. It’s the strategy of the parasite: take as much as you can before the host collapses.

  13. Bill Sturgeon
    April 19, 2014 at 5:12 am #

    Happy Easter, Blessed Sabbath!

  14. dusy
    April 19, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    It would be awesome if someone working for road maintenance could fill just a few of the deepest pot holes on Dalton ave heading west. It is heavily traveled and their are many holes at least 4 inches deep. Cars are weaving back and forth between lanes and this is not entirely safe practice.

    Yah, go ahead and finish the ham first.

  15. Evian
    April 19, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    How about Lincoln Street? Elizabeth Avenue going north just short of Howard Street. Maplewood just before St. Joe. Linden Street near Polish Hall? All look like moon surface.

  16. Nota
    April 19, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    What former mayor pulls down a no show salary from the state, I don’t think it’s the last mayor. Someone was telling me double dip isn’t the only mayor holding two jobs at once.

  17. Dave
    April 20, 2014 at 6:40 am #

    From what I hear bus funding is coming back because Caccamo can vote.

    • levitan
      April 20, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      In that case, I suggest a flood of phone calls/complaints to the State Monday Morning. Move fast enough and perhaps a vote can be disqualified before contracts are inked?

      • danvalenti
        April 20, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

        An excellent strategy, LEV.

    • danvalenti
      April 20, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

      I will share what I have been told via the State Ethics Commission. Advised of Mr. Caccamo’s situation, the SEC has advised that (a) they (the SEC) is the only entity that has legal standing in the case in terms of the councilor’s eligibility to vote and (b) any decision, ruling, opinion, or “other permission” by the city solicitor or by any other legal entity would be illegal. Bottom line appears to be that if Caccamo votes on the school bus issue this Tuesday, the city will be in for a lot of bad legal mojo.

      • levitan
        April 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

        Scratch that then. Monday AM flood Caccamo with a message from the SEC.

  18. levitan
    April 20, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    Council Agenda

    Sabourin looks like a powerhouse. Age 25 (?) and already managed to add Google Docs and gmail to her portfolio of professional skills.

    • danvalenti
      April 20, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

      By our (admittedly limited) personal experience (at the Scopes Monkey Trial) and her resume, she seems like an utter “light weight.” Perfect match for Mayor Bianchi, a.k.a, The Empty Suit.

      • levitan
        April 21, 2014 at 4:59 am #

        Well, being ‘primary author’ of a Fed grant is one heck of a feather. Almost sounds like she did more than fill out a form and write a proposal to spend money.

        • danvalenti
          April 21, 2014 at 7:56 am #

          LEVITAN, you are hot today!